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The misleading study: "Omega 3 fatty acids can increase the risk of prostate cancer", makes a big headline

The media hype and false advertising are powerful tools in driving false conclusions on scientific facts and data that have been proven for many years. One of these misrepresentations comes in the form of a recent study by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle with a deceptive headline that “omega 3 fatty acids can increase the risk of most aggressive prostate cancer”.   


For many years, many scientific studies and research have shown the importance of polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish known as omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, a study on 1,000 children showed that polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in mother’s milk can significantly increase the neural development. Click here to read more. The best source of protein for breastfeeding mothers and growing children is the lowest mercury fish “wild sockeye salmon”. Wild sockeye salmon is a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that can improve proper brain formation, increase eyesight and stronger nerves and reduce depression.

So why this study says otherwise?

Let’s take a look at these three facts before we go any further:

1. Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA) are necessary for neurological development of mothers and growing babies. Omega 3 fatty acids are also necessary for promoting proper brain formation, increasing intelligence, excellent eyesight, strong nerves and the alleviation of depression.  Wild salmon is not the only source for Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 3 can also be found in olive oil, flaxseed, sesame seeds, avocado and hemp seeds. 

2. Omega3 doesn’t cause prostate cancer and in fact, many studies including the one by University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows that protein from wild fish can significantly lower the chances of prostate cancer.

3. Eating wild salmon and taking fish oil (omega 3) supplements are VERY different. In fact, most omega-3 fish oil supplements are made from FARMED salmon that have high concentrations of PCB, toxins and mercury. For instance, farmed salmon: 

  1. has almost 10 times the level of PCB’s as compared to wild salmon
  2. has 30 times the number of sea lice as compared to wild salmon
  3. are fed colored pellets to give them color
  4. are fed pellets of chicken/turkey feces, corn meal, GMO soy/maize, or GMO canola oil
  5. are fed pellets with antibiotics at higher levels than any other livestock because of water toxins
  6. have less omega 3 fatty acid due to the type of diet fed
  7. are grown in very small spaces resulting in more disease infested water and pollution

So, let’s take at this study findings:

According to www.nlm.nih.gov, “The investigators found that men eating the most fatty fish and taking the most fish oil supplements had an overall 43 percent increase in risk for all prostate cancer, compared with men eating the least fish or taking the fewest supplements. The risk for aggressive prostate cancer was 71 percent higher; for non-aggressive prostate cancer, the risk was 44 percent greater.” Also, the leading author of the study, Theodore Brasky says that "These anti-inflammatory omega-3s were associated with a 43 percent increased risk for prostate cancer overall, and a 71 percent increased risk in aggressive prostate cancer”.

However, this study contradicts and fails to consider all the scientific facts about omega 3 fatty acids. Let me explain:

1. Taking fish oil supplement is different than eating wild salmon (lowest mercury fish) since most fish oil supplements are made from famed fish: Also, this study could have a valid point, if it was specifically talking about fish oil supplements made from farmed-raised salmon, not omega 3 fatty acids in wild salmon. 

2. The study fails to explain if the participants had wild caught fish or farm-raised fish, since eating farmed fish versus wild fish makes a world of difference.

3. According to doctornalini.com,

  •  >> 53% of the subjects with prostate cancer were smokers.
  •  >> 64% of the cancer subjects regularly consumed alcohol.
  •  >> 30% of the cancer subjects had at least one first-degree relative with prostate cancer.
  •  >> 80% of the cancer subjects were overweight or obese.

fish-oil-versus-wild-fish4. The right ratio of Omega 3 to omega 6 is an important factor to health and longevity: 

What’s MOSLY deceptive about this article is the fact that the authors fail to talk about the imbalances between omega 3 and omega 6 in Western diet that can result in many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, diabetes, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases. 

According to many scientific studies, human body has evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 of approximately 1. However, many nutritionists and experts believe that this ratio should be even higher, like 3 to 1. But based on the Western diet, the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is more like 1/15-1/25.

So in conclusion, omega 6 causes inflammation where as omega 3 can neutralize inflammation and in most Americans, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is 25 times higher than it should be.

Well, it appears that such deceptive headline that “omega 3 can increase the chances of prostate cancer” is only written by big Pharma that is very well-aware that the sales of all its prescription drugs and medical treatments depend on that ratio. In fact, higher intake of omega 6 is the main cause of mortality from heart disease.

Wild salmon has the highest omega 3 content (100%) and flaxseed is next with 57% omega-3 content. According to chriskresser.com, “In the U.S. the average person’s tissue concentration of highly unsaturated n-6 fat is 75%. Since we get close to 10% of our calories from n-6, our tissue contains about as much n-6 as it possibly could. This creates a very inflammatory environment and goes a long way towards explaining why 4 in 10 people who die in the U.S. each year die of heart disease.”

So, in conclusion, a diet high in omega-3 (from real food sources such as wild fish and flaxseed) CAN significantly reduce inflammation which is the root of many chronic diseases.

5. If this study says that omega 3 fatty acids (from wild salmon) can increase the risk of prostate cancer, then why this study contradicts all other previous studies about omega 3 and prostate cancer?

  • >> The study from University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows that protein from wild fish can significantly lower the chances of prostate cancer.
  • >> A 2006 study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that imbalances between omega 3 and omega 6 can trigger the growth of tumors and omega 3 fatty acids can significantly lower the risk of early stages of prostate cancer in men.
  • >> A recent study published in 2010, shows that the participants who had wild fish had a significant 63% reduction in prostate cancer mortality.
  • >> A research published in the medical journal The Lancet found that men who consume plenty of wild fish enjoy a lowered risk of prostate cancer compared to those who don't.
  • >> Studies show that taking fish oil supplements does not reduce prostate cancer risk and eating wild fish and seafood regularly is a better option.

Bottom line, saying omega 3 can cause prostate cancer is like saying breathing any air can give you lung cancer. Half truth isn’t the whole truth. However, fish oil supplements (made from farmed fish NOT wild salmon) may cause cancer, so does breathing the polluted air. But that doesn't mean breathing gives you cancer because in some parts of the world, the air is polluted.



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